Tunnel raiders lift pounds 2m

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Bonn - Armed robbers got away from a Berlin bank with more than pounds 2m yesterday, after escaping through a tunnel which they had dug previously, writes Steve Crawshaw.

Police stormed the building with stun grenades at around 3.30am, rescuing 16 hostages who were unharmed. But the thieves had knocked the final hole into the escape tunnel a couple of hours earlier. The tunnel led from the basement of the bank into the sewers - and thus to the rest of Berlin, outside the police cordon - and to a nearby garage. The coup had, it seems, been months in the preparation.

The five men had seized the bank, in Zelhendorf, south-west Berlin, at around 10.30am on Tuesday, taking 16 customers and staff members hostage. They demanded a ransom of 17 m (pounds 8m) and a helicopter to get them away. It seems that they received a first instalment of DM5m, in five sacks, before escaping down the tunnel.